Matt's Independence on 4th of July Weekend
This past holiday weekend my husband took my son to the “High Heat” tournament in Aberdeen, Maryland. I can remember when Matt would never leave my side, and there have only been a handful of times I haven’t been with him. I realized the more I educate and push Matt to be independent the more he will begin to assume responsibility. This past weekend he took responsibility of his illness because he wanted freedom, and he was confident enough to move forward. I’m not saying that he left for hours, but for him, hanging out with his friends playing video games or watching a game on TV without my husband or I being there was epic for him. Although this is wonderful it’s also heartbreaking, for me. It reminds me of kindergarten, you can’t wait for your child to go into school so you get some free time and when it happens you begin to think where did the time go. But of course, all is good, and you move to the next stages of not only redefining your life, but watching your child achieve amazing confidence while dealing with a serious illness.
Of course I’m thrilled he’s more independent and he now knows he has control of his decisions, to him his diabetes is secondary and it does not effect what he wants to do. So how did I get him to the point? I mapped everything in stages, and what I believed he could accomplish by gauging everything in school years. Since Matt was diagnosed in preschool he was to young to assume any responsibility, not to mention I needed to get a handle of everything before I could expect him to fly solo. He was diagnosed in February which meant snow and being inside. He was also in preschool so the desire for having “hang outs” (apparently that’s the new lingo, as my daughter continues to remind me) was not an issue. In the beginning you are working with your doctor to figure out doses so you are always worried. Once that began to level out I started to think about the next stages.
Kindergarten – these goals were simple for him.
- Review the regimen I outlined for the nurse
- Take home the “Sheet” that detailed his day, (excel spreadsheet)
First grade – He’s learning how to read, add and subtract.
- Review the regimen with Matt so he understands the components needed for a successful day.
- Quiz games, “Guess how many carbs are in food” (this was always my favorite)
Second grade - He is fine tuning first grade knowledge so now I can add logic and number ranges. I decided this year to phase in levels of responsibility.
In September when school started he was responsible for:
- Writing his blood sugar results onto his sheet.
- Determine whether his blood sugar was in a good or bad range.
- Understand where shots are given on the body.
Mid year I added logic, I let him know that he had the power to question something that didn’t seem logical to him. I began to empower him to question decisions of insulin dose and necessary snack if he felt differently. Of course I aligned with the nurse to ensure we were on the same page. My goal was to ensure he gained confidence not that he was questioning authority.
Third grade – this was a big year.
- Prepare his “Sheet”
- Determine his insulin dose, with supervision of course, still to nervous to let go.
- Prime and get his insulin pen ready.
- Learn had to administer his own shots, definitely scary for him at first.
Fourth grade – this is my plan.
- He will begin carrying an extra meter with a snack in his backpack. This does not replace the supplies in the nurse’s office.
- Once he is at school I will no longer hang around the playground.
- He will be given a phone to communicate with me, I believe this will allow him to feel confident and if he needed to double check I’m a phone call away.
- Continue all of the previous years responsibility that are now effortless and of course stay aligned with the school nurse.
I’m happy with Matt’s overall progress through the years. I’ll admit we’re still not at 100% independence, I still needed to constantly ask him fill out his sheet, take his blood sugar, administer his shot, but it has gotten better. There are going to be times that he doesn’t want to do it because he wants a break and I totally get it. On those days I do it for him not because I want him to regress but because I want him to know that I’m still here for him and I understand. Until the next paper meets pencil, have a beautiful day.